IEM Daily Feature
Thursday, 13 February 2014

Hours for Snow

Posted: 13 Feb 2014 05:47 AM

For rainfall, it is well established that Iowa experiences two peaks in hourly frequency. One is in the early morning hours associated with a phenomena known as the low level jet and the other, in the very late afternoon/evening hours associated with the heating of the day driving storms. For snowfall, the forcing is a bit different and the featured chart presents the hourly frequencies of having snowfall reported by the Des Moines Airport sensor. The peak shown for all events is during the coldest time of day (right before sunrise), which would be the best odds that a precipitating storm could have temperatures cold enough to support snow. That is not the entire story though as the smaller bars depict when the most intense snowfalls are reported (coded +SN in the reports). These intense events have a clear diurnal pattern with the maximum in the late afternoon hours. It is not entirely clear why this is, but a logical explanation is that convective snow (like what we experienced in mid January) is enhanced and perhaps forced by daylight heating. While the bars are normalized, you should notice the large difference in frequency between the intense +SN events and all snow events.

Good = 32
Bad = 12
Abstain = 4

Tags:   asos   snow   metar